Durham-Chapel Hill metro unemployment 7.5% in December

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 07:30 PM

Unemployment was up in December in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area compared with November, but was down compared with the rate in the month last year, according to seasonally adjusted data released Tuesday.

The rate in the metropolitan statistical area that includes Durham, Orange, Chatham and Person counties was 7.5 percent in December. That was up compared with November’s 7.2 percent, but down compared with December 2011’s rate of 8.3 percent.

That’s according to data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division that was seasonally adjusted by the East Carolina University Bureau of Business Research.

John Quinterno, principal with the Chapel Hill research firm South by North Strategies Limited, said in an email that the metro area saw positive developments in December year-over-year in growth in its employment, and a decline in its unemployment rate.

“That said, the numbers are consistent with a slow recovery that is only gradually driving down unemployment,” Quinterno said.

According to the data seasonally adjusted by the ECU Bureau of Business Research, Orange and Chatham County again had the first and second lowest unemployment rates aamong the state’s 100 counties. Durham was ranked No. 7, and Person County was No. 34.

Orange’s rate’s, at 6.3 percent in December, was above the rate in November for the county of 6 percent, and was below the rate in the month last year of 6.7 percent.

Durham County’s rate of 7.9 percent was also above November’s rate of 7.5 percent, but was below the 8.4 percent in the county in December of 2011.

The county saw its employment levels grow by 165 workers from November to December, but its numbers of unemployed workers grew by 552 in the same period, according to the estimates adjusted by the ECU Bureau of Business Research.

Compared with December of last year, the county saw its employment levels grow by 4,028 workers, and its unemployment levels fall by 526 workers.

In all of North Carolina, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in December, up from November’s 9.1 percent, and down from December of 2011’s 10.4 percent.

The state’s employment levels grew by 10,398 workers from November to December, according to the data seasonally adjusted by ECU, while its unemployment numbers grew by 6,997 in the same period.

Compared with the month last year, the state saw its employment levels grow by 121,487 workers, and its unemployed levels fall by 45,380.

Mike Walden, an agricultural and resource economics professor at N.C. State University, said he believes the labor market is improving, and will continue to improve, pointing to the state’s increase in employment levels. He said the unemployment rate went up as more people not previously counted in the labor force started looking for jobs.